Friday, February 25, 2011

A Toddler's Mentalilty

It's been awhile. I'd forgotten what it's like to deal with a toddler's mentality. But yesterday I was reminded of how fickle toddlers can be. This toddler happened to be the four-legged kind, namely Patches, our Blue Heeler pooch. She is so funny and has such a personality. And she has added years to Tippy, our Border Collie. But yesterday was one of those touchy-feely moments where Patches received a life lesson. We're starting to calve and the dogs are not allowed to ride in the cow checking pickup. They can ride in the flatbed all they want, but the cow checking pickup is off limits. It's sometimes spooky enough for me to tag new baby calves what with Momma's temperament, but I definitely don't need two inquisitive dogs teetering on the edge of the pickup seat, hoping for a chance to bite a hunk out of Momma's leg or nose. So yesterday morning when I left to go check cows, Patches naturally assumed she could ride along. Tippy had already retreated to her dog house. She is old enough and wise enough to understand what time of year it is. But the spry, uninhibited little Patches dog just hasn't yet grasped that concept. I threw a glaring look her way and offered a firm "Stay", then I drove off, rather unassuming. So there I was, plodding along through the bulk of the cows as they munched on some delicious sorghum hay, tapping my fingers in rhythm with the Dixie Chicks (yes, there is a local radio station that still plays them and I do enjoy their music, despite their lack of common sense) and occasionally howling out a few lyrics. Suddenly, the cows are headed toward the pickup in an odd manner. I wonder what could be wrong when I look in the rear view mirror and spy Patches racing behind the pickup, trying to catch up. My only option was to let her in the pickup while we finished the checking rounds. As she effortlessly bounded into the front seat, I smacked her little fanny (no, I do not believe in time outs!) and seriously scolded her. She immediately cowered down and turned her head toward the passenger door, ears pinned as far down on her head as she could get them. She rode that way throughout the remainder of the trip. Not once did she even offer to look at me. I even stopped to check on a stock tank. She never bobbed that head one little bit...just stared at the passenger door. Well, now, this is something I haven't seen in nearly, oh gosh, a year? (Just kidding, sons!). They were pretty small when that last happened and even then there was always some type of comeback from one of them--the reasoning powers always kicked in. Patches didn't offer any type of reason or logic. She just likes to ride everywhere. We got back to the house and she skied over my lap without even shooting a glimpse my way, and bounded to the dog house. Tippy offered no sympathy. In fact, I could almost see her saying, "I told you so." This morning Patches obediently sat on her haunches and seemed to wave a sad goodbye as I left the yard in the cow checking pickup.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Been away from the blog a while, it seems. Well, I really didn't have much to talk about (some of you would think that's pretty normal if you've read my blogs!) and this thing called time also creeped in and made itself at home. So I got the bulls moved to another pasture, but the dogs weren't impressed. I just honked the horn on the flatbed and the bulls hauled out of the pasture they were in and galloped alongside the pickup, trying to steal a bite of cake (that's range cubes for you novices). One of the bulls kept trying to stick his head inside the cab of the pickup, hoping to get a special treat, but all he received as a snip on the nose from Tippy. Patches was too busy trying to bury herself in the floorboards as far away from that humongous big black thing as she could get. Got the cows moved into the calving pasture, too. Same process, just quite a few more. I love how cattle string out like a freight train, methodically following one another to the appointed destination. I had a friend in college (yes, I did have friends then) who once asked me which cow decides when it's time to go get a drink of water. I'd never really thought about that I guess. To this day I don't know which cow decides that they are all thirsty and should go for water. In between all the ranch work we sneaked in a trip to Arkansas to see the oldest son perform in a play his college was presenting. This was awesome! Everything was done so professionally--kind of like watching a high school basketball game, then going to the Nuggets. Well, maybe I shouldn't compare a high school team to the Nuggets--high school players want to play, not whine until they're traded to another team. But that's another blog. (Happy trails to you, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups!). Speaking of whining--yesterday I received a cortisone shot in my left thumb. I don't think we give our thumbs and big toes enough credit. We don't remember they are there until they hurt. The doctor assured me this shot would help. But, if not, we can always do a joint replacement. What???? He said that as if he was just going to pull a splinter out of my thumb. We've had great results with the joint replacements, the doc assured me. Today I think he did the joint replacement and I didn't know it. I have a really high pain tolerance, but I about had to change my diaper when he injected that thing. Yes, he deadened it first. I had no feeling from my thumb clear up to my shoulder. I think the dentist could have filled a tooth and wouldn't have had to shoot any deadener in there. Then he injected the cortisone which nearly caused me to have an adverse reaction and smack him in the face. I thought he deadened the thumb! He also reminded me that I probably wouldn't be able to do a whole lot today because the thumb would be sore. Oh, pfffhhhtt. What could stop me? Perhaps a sore thumb? Gee, he must know what he's talking about. Well, it's time to go get something done. What can I do that requires minimal use of a thumb--clicking a remote with the right hand, perhaps? Now there's an idea!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stock Tanks and Pizza Places

They really don't have much in common, stock tanks and pizza places. But today, as I was attempting to clear a tank in preparation for cattle to be moved into that pasture, I discovered a definite link between chopping ice out of a stock tank and a certain pizza haunt. Well, it's not really a pizza haunt for us now, but when the boys were younger, we seemed to spend several birthday parties there, either celebrating the special day of a friend or one of our own. So there I was, whacking away at the seemingly endless mass of iceberg on a finally 50-degree day! Hallelujah! After I finally hit 'liquid silver' (that would be water underneath that mass of iceberg), I began chipping away from the edges of the tire tank to get even a small hole started. Finally a diamond-shaped piece splintered off! Eureka! Success! That gave me a starting place. The dogs were doing all they could to stay awake and cheer me on (yeah, right) as the sun shone brightly on them. Well, I kept hacking away and the pieces got larger. Suddenly I felt like a lumberjack shortly before he yells "Timmmberrr!" Either that, or I felt like the captain of the Titanic when it met the iceberg--"Now what do we do?" Huge pieces were chunking off the mass. I was definitely making progress. Then it dawned on me that I might not be the he-woman I thought I was and would not be able to lift said pieces out of the tank. By now the dogs are snoring--they're no help. Okay, I think I'll take a few whacks at the mini icebergs floating in the small ocean. That's where the tie between the pizza place and stock tanks comes in. You know that pizza place where you can whack the groundhogs' heads when they pop out of the hole? You get to use that big ole' mallet and just whack away. It's a great place to vent your frustrations. That's what I did to these humongous ice pieces floating in the stock tank. I pretended they were those ground hogs (really, they more resembled prairie dogs) and I whacked away with the axe. Oh, baby, it felt good! Warm day, axe in hand, dogs snoring on the shoreline...wait, what paradise(?) island have I escaped to? Zooming back to reality, I realize I have about accomplished my mission of clearing this tank. I'm sure my muscles will thank me for it later tonight (not!). Anyway, I came back to the house and popped a pizza in the oven. Kind of fitting, huh?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

O, Say Can You...Sing???

Okay, by now virtually everyone has heard about Christina Aquilera's guffaw with the national anthem at Sunday's Super Bowl. I don't sing, but I do play a mean radio. I can hold a tune in the car quite easily, thank you very much. But, please, these are professional singers performing a song that leaves little room for compromise when you're on the world's largest stage. First of all, I have a real problem with the national anthem being all 'juiced up' and sung in different ways. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics and I think he had a tune in mind when he penned the song in the heat of battle. Why does it have to take on a different personality with different singers? Why can't it just be sung the way it was written to be sung...and that would include ALL the words and verses? The 12-year-old phenom from America's Got Talent got it right at the outdoor hockey match in Pittsburgh on New Year's Day so one would think someone as famous as CA could belt out the anthem with no problem. Heck, I know of three young, very talented, ladies at Edison High School who could have handled the Super Bowl assignment with no problem. They sing the anthem all the time at Edison volleyball and basketball events. No, I'm not comparing Edison sporting events to the Super Bowl, but the song remains the same. I'm sure these three talented singers would have gladly accepted the challenge to sing on the Fox network Sunday night. But answer me this, if you can. The Super Bowl was being played in Texas--home of some awesome musical talent, some talent, in fact, that hasn't even really been discovered yet. Why not showcase Texas music by letting, say, the Randy Rogers Band play the national anthem? Heck, why not let them do the halftime show? Then maybe we wouldn't have had to watch people (?) in illuminated suits with boxes on their heads prancing around on stage. Although that did give us a quick minute to get a sandwich and settle in for the second half of ...commercials!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Great Thou Art

I love music and I love many, many songs. I pretty much listen to all genres of music, but I prefer listening to gospel, classic country, and rock 'n roll. But throughout all that array of music, two songs really top my all-time favorite list: "Amazing Grace" (performed by Elvis) and "How Great Thou Art" (performed by the Gaither Vocal Band). Have you ever really thought about the words in "How Great Thou Art"? We sang the first stanza in church this morning and it really hit me that this is a tremendously powerful song. "Oh, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder; consider all the things thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder; thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great Thou art, how Great thou art. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art." Think about that--when you stop and consider all the things God created, not just the earth, but ALL things throughout the universe displayed. The mysterious wonders of His works are displayed throughout the universe, not just here on Earth. Why, there are things out there that He created that we will never see in this lifetime because of the vastness of the universe. So if the Big Bang theory is correct and we all just evolved from a hiccup somewhere in the universe, how do we explain DNA, chromosomes, fingerprint patterns, no two snowflakes being alike, Nature's exquisite detail? The list is endless. Yes, I sit in awesome wonder at the things my God has created. I am not ashamed to call Him 'my God', but I'll gladly share His story with anyone who wants to listen. How great Thou art!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Calf Meringue

I just pulled a coconut cream pie from the oven and had to smile at how pretty the meringue looks. I sometimes struggle with meringue. My aunt used to make cream pies with the most beautiful meringue. She gave me her meringue recipe but, like most recipes that are handed down, it just doesn't work as well for me. Oh, it looks nice, tastes great, and all that, but it just doesn't stand up and salute like some meringue you see. You know the kind, the pies that are loaded with meringue and down there underneath if you look hard enough, you'll see the actual pie. I like meringue on my cream pies. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind some good whipped cream on top of them either, but I just think meringue adds to the pie. But, for some reason, this pie-baking session took me back to my childhood days when Mom used to bake cream pies. She made the most wonderful chocolate and coconut cream pies with the most beautiful meringue. But, like me, she was never satisfied with the way her meringue looked. As kids, though, we didn't mind. We loved it. But we always called it "calf slobbers." I'm not really sure why. I guess if you study meringue long enough, it sort of bears a resemblance to said 'calf slobbers.' I am sure many restaurants who pride themselves in their bakery departments would not appreciate hearing meringue referred to as such. But that's just the mentality of kids reared on a ranch. You know, kind of like looking at something sort of yellowish-green and thinking it looks like, well, you know. It's related to calves too. Anyway, I've got a pretty good looking coconut cream pie here, complete with calf meringue. Happy trails!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

That Noah Feeling

I think I now know how Noah felt, taking animals two-by-two onto the ark. It is not an easy task. Yesterday morning, it was warm, clear, and the sun was shining. So I decided to turn out the chickens so they could maintain their "free range" status. I wouldn't want anyone accusing me of selling "caged" chicken eggs. The dogs and I took a little jaunt to Fowler to get some feed for the menagerie and we returned home just in time to unload feed in a raging blizzard. Naturally, the chickens are more intelligent than most of us give them credit for. They and the two ducks had all gathered inside the cat house. Now the cat house was the chicken house when I was growing up, but since that time we have built a new chicken house and allowed the barn cats to reside in the old chicken residence. It's not that complicated, but it sounds like it is. Anyway, the cats and chicks were sharing the cat house yesterday and I figured I'd better get the chickens back to their own digs. So I did what any good chicken herder (?) would do--I tried shooing them out of the cat house. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind. The ducks quacked, the chickens clucked, and they all cocked their heads and just looked at me. That's when my 'Noah' instinct kicked in. I'd just have to take them, two-by-two, to the chicken house. And I guess that's what they expected. The chickens would squat right in front of me, and look up at me as if to say, "Pick me up, let's go." My sons don't like chickens and, at times, I understand why. So I toted the chickens, one pair at a time, over to their own house. The ducks didn't want any part of being carried, so they complained all the way as they waddled across the yard toward their hotel. They don't quite move like the ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis! We completed the move, the poultry was happy, the cats were thrilled to have regained ownership of their place, and I decided that for the next couple of days the chickens would have to chance being labeled as "caged" because they would be held captive in their little house until the 'Great Thaw' occurs.